Five to Try: Beat up Batman in Arkham Underworld, or force a smile with FaceApp

Also, the huge new Pokémon Go update warrants a return from lapsed fans.

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Andrew Hayward

If you’re on the prowl for new and updated Android apps and games that are worth a look, we’ve got you covered with our latest Five to Try column. FaceApp is this week’s biggest app debut, using the immense power of cloud computing to… put a silly but (sometimes) realistic grin on nearly any picture? True story!

Elsewhere, Batman: Arkham Underworld flips the script by putting you in control of the Dark Knight’s worst enemies, while the huge new Pokémon Go update adds 80+ monsters along with other tweaks and enhancements. EasilyDo’s new Email app is also worth checking out for on-the-go power-emailers, while puzzler unWorded is sure to prod your brain with its tricky, typography-based challenges.

FaceApp

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I look terrifying, but that Trump photo takes on a whole new tone with Melania’s faux grin.

In a time where “fake news” accusations are always flung around, one app is making it easier to produce fake photos in a matter of seconds. Fresh off of its buzzy iOS release, FaceApp is now available on Android, and it allows you to take a selfie (or load a saved photo), send it to the cloud, and pop a realistic smile onto someone’s mug. Turn that frown upside down, whether your subject wants you to or not.

Kind of creepy, right? When FaceApp works well, the results are surprisingly on point. Boosted by cloud computing, the app pastes someone else’s smiling lips into the image, adjusts the cheeks and wrinkles around the eyes, and delivers a realistic result. When it doesn’t work as well, which is actually pretty common, the results can be horrifying (see me, above); that’s especially true with some of the other filters included with the app. But as a freebie gimmick app, it’s well worth tossing in a few photos to see what kinds of goofs you can turn out.

Batman: Arkham Underworld

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Control The Riddler and other foes in this anti-Batman game.

Find The Lego Batman Movie too upbeat and silly? Maybe Batman: Arkham Underworld will be more your speed. Not only does it depict a grittier, comic-inspired take on the Caped Crusader, but it also puts you in charge of the opposition. Instead of playing as the Dark Knight himself, you’ll command famous Batman villains and their goons to take over Gotham City.

Arkham Underworld takes the form of a top-down action game and management sim, wherein you’ll point units towards enemies and objectives and watch them complete their tasks. It’s largely hands-off, but there’s strategy in how you approach each battle, as well as which units you send out. Between missions, you’ll build up your base, enlist new villains—like Bane and Catwoman—and gradually unlock new abilities. It seems a little flat compared to the action-packed Arkham games on console and PC, plus the huge in-app purchases (up to $200) for currency are off-putting. But if you love the world of Batman, give it a try. 

Pokémon Go

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New monsters! New monsters! Also, the capture UI now allows easier access for swapping Poké Balls and berries.

Surely anyone who is remotely interested in Pokémon Go has tried the app by now, considering the one billion-plus installs since last summer, but how many of you are still playing? The location-based experience’s limited gameplay and early hitches drove many players away, but Niantic and The Pokémon Company have just unleashed the biggest update yet—and it may be enough to entice lapsed fans back in.

This week’s update adds more than 80 new second-generation Pokémon, which means we finally have loads of new monsters (like Chikorita and Totodile) to capture in the world. It also adds new types of berries for use during captures, gender variations for Pokémon, new types of evolutions for existing monsters, greater avatar customization options, and fresh tweaks and animations. It’s surely the most important upgrade that Pokémon Go has seen since launch, and offers a compelling new reason to get back on the hunt.

Email by EasilyDo

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It’s email—it doesn’t look exciting, but EasilyDo’s app might save you time and hassle.

If you spend ample time reading, writing, and deleting emails on your phone, then you’re probably well aware of whatever hang-ups plague your current client of choice. Looking for something new? EasilyDo’s Email app just made the leap over to Android, and it’s designed for speed, convenience, and customization, giving you more control over your inbox without it feeling overloaded. 

Popping between boxes and messages feels zippy all around, plus EasilyDo’s A.I. tech from its Smart Assistant app pops up here with things like real-time package delivery notifications, as well as travel alerts based on your messages. It also puts a big “Unsubscribe” button front and center when dealing with junk, and can manage receipts and invoices that come in. You can customize what the varying swipe commands do in your inbox, as well, and Nougat users get some extra customization perks too. And EasilyDo’s Email app is flexible, taking Gmail, Hotmail, Office and Outlook 365, IMAP/POP, iCloud, and other types of accounts.

unWorded

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Each jumble of symbols must be rearranged into a solution.

unWorded ($4) might not be the puzzler you’d expect from something built around typography: it’s not a word game, but rather one in which you’ll use the letters and symbols to create real-world objects. You’ll build an umbrella from a handful of symbols, for example, and use it to shield an injured man from falling rain (made up of letters, naturally). Or you’ll build a boat or a planter using the same kind of parts.

Why are you doing this, you might ask? unWorded spins a tale of a writer who finds his mind a mess after a serious accident, so as he contemplates his own stories, you’ll build solutions from letters and symbols to continue narrative threads and repair his brain. This inventive indie game is artistic and can be perplexing, but it’s a calm and intriguing brain-teaser that thankfully also lets you skip ahead if you’re totally confused by a puzzle.

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